Let Go Of The Rope
The Eiffel Tower of Primrose Drive
As houses go Alan Fisher’s was nothing special, except for one thing. It was this that led to his wife walking out and leaving him. It was this that had the neighbours wondering why she hadn’t gone before and why some moved, if they could sell their house, which many still struggled to do. They complained. They wrote letters to all manner of official and governmental department, but Alan Fisher hadn’t done anything wrong. He complied with all the regulations. He had the correct licences. In every other sense, Alan Fisher might have been considered a pillar of the community.
The problem was that Alan Fisher was a radio ham. Every spare moment was spent using his 200watt HF/M Transceiver connected to an Icom 910H satellite aerial which enabled him to talk, if he wanted, to some sheep farmer living in the outback of Australia. The neighbours didn’t mind him talking to some outback sheep farmer, or annoying North Atlantic crab fishermen, or eavesdropping on the police or air traffic control using a home made but probably illegal scanner. Like most people, he complied with regulations as far as they could be bent. The neighbours got angry because his transmissions interfered with their televisions, radios and set off their house and car alarms and screwed their mobile phone signal and played havoc with their internet connections. The power from his transmitter blotted out everything and so Alan Fisher’s unpopularity grew and grew.
Alan remained undeterred and more concerned that some of their low powered devices sometimes interfered with his transmissions. The solution, he decided, was to build a new aerial, one higher than the one attached to his house, one high enough to clear all the surrounding houses and so he started building.
The aerial grew and grew. It extended upwards in a maze of angled aluminium and criss-crossed beams and as it grew, so did the complaints. The neighbours sent a petition to the local council. They contacted the newspaper, the local radio but Alan Fisher ignored it all. He couldn’t see what the fuss was about and argued that this would not only stop their equipment interfering with his transmission, it would stop his transmission interfering with their equipment.
They initially named this monstrous growing radio mast the Eiffel Tower of Primrose Drive. This changed to the Awful Tower as it reached eighty feet into the sky and finally, an official from the council arrived. This official, as is the wont, arrived just as Alan was putting the final touches to his monstrous tower.
‘Come down Mr Fisher. I have an enforcement notice ordering you to cease work,’ said the official as the neighbours gathered to watch what they hoped would be the end of the affair.
‘That’s what I’m doing,’ Alan Fisher replied after climbing down and taking hold of a rope that ran from a pulley at the top.
‘So what are you doing now?’ asked the official.
‘I’ve put my tools in a barrel and now I’m just going to lower them down.’
The official looked around and judged that bringing the tools down from the top meant he’d be complying with the order to stop work, so nodded for Alan to continue.
The problem was that Alan had a lot of tools, not only tools but spare bolts and pieces of metal and all together, these weighed quite a lot, in fact twice as later determined, twice what Alan weighed.
Alan took hold of the rope and swung his weight to lift the barrel. It didn’t rise and barely moved across the platform above. A wiser man would have taken this as a clue, but Alan swung again. The barrel moved closer to the edge. Once more and it was half over. Alan looked up, one more swing and he’d be able to lower it down.
The official watched. The neighbours watched. Alan swung all his weight on the end of the rope. The barrel swung free of the platform above and seemed to swing in the air for a second and then started down. Alan Fisher held onto the rope as he shot skyward. The barrel of tools, aided by the benefit of gravity, hurtled down meeting Alan Fisher, still holding the rope, as he hurtled up.
The crowd winced and oohed at the sound of the barrel meeting their neighbour’s head. The blow knocked Alan senseless, but not senseless enough to let go of the rope. The barrel continued its journey to the ground and Alan continued his journey up.
The rope, around which Alan’s fingers were tightly wrapped, whizzed through the wheel of the block taking and mangling the fingers as he reached the top, but looking down through his pain and confusion, he realised he had to hang on.
The barrel hit the ground tipping on its side and spilling half the tools, just enough to make it lighter than Alan clinging on at the top. Alan’s weight took control and he started down, the barrel and the remaining tools heading up and once again they met in the middle. The sound of his legs breaking echoed across the stunned crowd causing them to wince again.
The barrel continued to rise while Allen continued to fall; still clutching the rope as if it would lessen his impact with the concrete foundation he’d built to support the tower’s height. This was also covered with the scattered tools and jagged off cuts of angle iron that had fallen from the barrel when it first landed. Those watching only had seconds to consider the result. A mother covered her son’s eyes only to have her hands pulled away. It was gorier than the goriest computer game, which he hadn’t been able to play because Alan’s transmissions kept interfering with his games console whenever he tried.
Alan landed with a heavy thud and let go of the rope. The barrel and its remaining contents plummeted down. Everyone winced at what sounded like a beetle being crushed underfoot.
Several weeks later some people stopped to look at the house. A ‘For Sale’ sign stood in the yard. The aerial was long gone. After looking around they knocked on a neighbour’s door to ask about the previous owner and the quality of the neighbourhood.
‘Oh yes, very nice man.’ Well people living in a nice area know better than to speak ill of the dead. ‘Tragic accident. So you’re thinking of buying the house. Er, you’re not into Ham radio or anything like that are you? No. Good. Oh yes, this is a very nice neighbourhood.